THE MOST SUCCESSFUL graduates of drummer/vocalist Michael Lenzi's great Sweet Pea label, Chicago's Number One Cup are the archetypal '90s indie rock band, four clean-cut, smart (alecky) white guys married to simple, catchy guitar rock (sans roll) and enigmatic lyrics. As studiously first-rate, but unoriginal fourth (or fifth) generation indie rockers, Number One Cup lay their influences bare: the Pavement-esque playfulness of "Backlit," the J. Mascis whine of "Bright Orange Fireball Sun," the Guided By Voices melodies of "Ease Back Down" and "Chisel," and even a brief stab at Stereolab style electronics on "Concordia."
Probably thanks to producer Brad Wood (Liz Phair, Ben Lee), Wrecked By Lions is more polished than their 1995 debut, Possum Trot Plan, but doesn't contain anything as undeniable as that record's "Just Let Go" or "Divebomb." They sound fine on cheeky riff rockers like "Paris" but really come into their own on more low-key songs like "Concordia" and "Maybe There's a Thread," which provide the unpretentious intimacy that's indie's calling card. And I'm especially fond of their commitment to collective creation--all four members write and sing.
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